Have you ever felt something in your eye and instinctively reached up to rub it? Rubbing your eye when something is in it can scratch the cornea. It’s important to know how to safely remove foreign objects from the eye without causing further damage.

Should I try to remove it?
If something gets stuck in your eye, it is best to not try to remove it. If the cornea becomes scratched, it will need further treatment by an Ophthalmologist. However, there are a few things you can try to see if it will come out on its own.

Blink your eyes quickly to remove dust or dirt particles without applying pressure.
Ask a friend to look in your eye to see if they can see where it is located.
Use a sterile saline solution or eye drops to irrigate the eye.
Gently pull the eyelid down and out until it is over the lower lid, then let it slide back into place naturally. In some cases, this can dislodge an object.

What if the object doesn’t come out?
If you try these tips and the object stays lodged in the eye, you will need to seek medical attention. Your Ophthalmologist can examine the eye and determine the proper treatment. Sometimes they can apply simple irrigation strategies to remove the irritant. However, in other cases they may need to apply an anesthetic before using a probe to remove the object. If the eye is scratched you may need medications that allow the eye to heal properly.

When should I call the doctor?
In some instances it is very important to call your physician and let them examine your eye if something gets in it. Other reasons that you may need to call the eye doctor include:

Deep or severe pain in the eye
Irritation that lasts 30 minutes after the object has been removed
If you get chemicals or glass in your eye
In these cases, do not try to remove the foreign object yourself. If you get any type of chemical in your eye it should be irrigated with sterile water immediately. This may remove the chemical and re-balance the pH of the surface of your eye.

To be safe, you should always follow up with a medical professional after removing something from the eye.